Staying adequately hydrated by drinking plenty of water is essential for your entire body. Under certain conditions, drinking water alone isn’t enough to replenish your body’s fluids, and electrolyte water can make a big difference. Here’s what you should know about electrolyte water versus regular water.
Electrolyte water is infused with important minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. These minerals balance bodily fluids and send signals to contract muscles like your heart.
Certain conditions can make you more prone to dehydration and electrolytes can help you quickly replace fluids.
While electrolytes can be helpful, consuming too many electrolytes that can throw off your fluid balance.
Many electrolyte drinks also contain simple sugars that may be unnecessary for most people.
This article will outline the key differences between electrolyte and regular water. We’ll also discuss choosing the right electrolyte water for your needs (or how to make your own if you’d prefer).
What is electrolyte water?
Electrolyte water is a beverage that contains dissolved minerals called electrolytes.
Electrolytes are electrically charged, which is important for various bodily functions like keeping your heart beating, muscle function, and nerve signaling properly. Electrolytes also play different roles, like balancing water levels and maintaining a regular pH balance. Sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphate, magnesium, chloride, and bicarbonate are some of the most common electrolytes in electrolyte water.
You can get electrolytes from the foods that you eat, as well as some mineral waters. However, your body loses water and electrolytes through sweat. If your electrolyte levels drop too low, it can become life-threatening.
Staying hydrated is essential for regulating body temperature and blood pressure. Conversely, you can have too many electrolytes compared to your body water, which can present health issues.
What are electrolyte water benefits?
Is electrolyte water good for you? It definitely can be, especially if you’re at an increased risk of dehydration.
Electrolyte water is highly effective for rehydration, since electrolyte minerals control and maintain how your body balances fluids. Electrolyte water is a good option for athletes or for those who perform vigorous physical activities for work. Electrolyte water may also be a better option if you are sick or in extreme heat, since it can replace your fluids faster than regular water alone.
Some electrolyte waters also include carbohydrates in the form of sugars. Carbohydrates are an essential energy source for athletes since they are converted into glycogen, a source of fuel that is stored in muscles for later. Electrolyte drinks are sometimes called “sports drinks” because they target high-intensity athletes. High-endurance athletes may benefit from these drinks, but the average person who spends one hour in the gym should stick with regular water to avoid drinking excess sugar.
Can you drink electrolyte water during fasting?
You can drink certain kinds of electrolyte water if you are fasting, but it’s essential to look for options that don't contain carbohydrates or other additives that can break your fast.
Some people choose to fast to restrict their calorie intake, regulate blood sugar levels, and ultimately help with weight loss. On their own, electrolytes and water generally do not contain calories, making them suitable to consume during a fast. However, many electrolyte drinks also contain carbohydrates, which can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels and technically break your fast. Stick with unflavored, zero-calorie options since these are the best electrolyte water for fasting.
What should I look for in electrolyte water?
There are several varieties of electrolyte water on the market. If you want to add electrolyte water into your routine, here’s what you should look for.
- Electrolytes. The electrolyte content is one of the first things to look for when shopping for electrolyte water. Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are three of the most essential electrolytes your body needs.
- Choose natural ingredients when possible. Look for natural sweeteners like stevia, or choose unflavored electrolyte water if you prefer natural ingredients.
- Avoid excess added sugars. Many electrolyte drinks contain excessive amounts of sugar that are unnecessary for hydration. Look for options with fewer added sugars. You can also look for “low-calorie” or “zero-calorie” options to ensure you aren’t consuming excess carbohydrates through your water.
Electrolyte water vs regular water
Electrolyte-infused waters can rehydrate you faster than regular water, since they replace the electrolytes and the water you may lose during exercise.
However, many electrolyte waters contain more added sugar than you probably need. Unless you are an athlete, doing high-intensity exercises for more than one hour, or are sick, you likely don’t need to consume electrolyte water frequently.
How to make electrolyte water?
You can also make your own electrolyte water if you can’t find any that fits your needs and dietary preferences.
You will need:
- 1 cup of water
- Half a lemon or lime
- A small pinch of salt
Instead of using water, you can also use coconut water, which contains a variety of electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals. Lemons or limes are a great source of potassium, while salt is essential for sodium.
To make it, mix the water, lemon/lime juice, and a small pinch of salt. You can also add your preferred sweetener to improve the taste and create your own flavored electrolyte water.
Electrolyte water is an excellent option for hydration, especially if you are prone to excessive sweating or are otherwise dehydrated. However, electrolyte water also sometimes contains added sugars that may be unnecessary for someone otherwise well-hydrated. If you do decide to use electrolyte water, make sure to choose a brand suitable for your needs and activity level, or make your own to completely control the ingredients.
What is the best way to get electrolytes?
Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium can be found in nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, electrolytes are naturally present in some mineralized water. However, electrolyte water is a good choice if you’re looking for a large dose of electrolytes due to dehydration.
Is coconut water an electrolyte?
Coconut water contains many vitamins and minerals, including electrolytes, which makes it a good natural alternative to bottled sports drinks. However, remember that most coconut water also has some natural sugars.
Is it okay to drink electrolyte water every day?
If you need to drink electrolyte water often, for example, if you are a high-intensity athlete or work an intensive job, you typically can drink electrolyte water daily. However, if you are otherwise adequately hydrated, you should avoid consuming electrolyte water too frequently to minimize your intake of sugars and carbohydrates. In addition, you can also have too much electrolytes, which can also cause imbalances in your fluid levels.
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